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 Post subject: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanless?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:06 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Chattanooga
I just wanted to share my newest build - happens to be my first custom watercooling rig.

However, my quest was to get high end performance, but silent.

I already have enough fans in several SuperMicrO server cases that would cause OSHA to demand hearing protection if I left them on all the time!
I've already been down the big heatsink/quiet fan routes and that just wasn't enough ... or maybe is was just a challenge to see if I could make a silent performance rig. :)

So watercooling looked to be in my future, but not with traditional rads that require fans to push/pull and get back to the noise factor.
This led me to researching Zalman external solutions and finally to come across the AlphaCool Cape Cora passive radiators. There are only a few reviews of them online, but each reviewer was amazed at their totally silent, convective performance.

But what case to start with? Most cases still had and needed some airflow through them - resulting in still having fans. Ultimately, any case I got would just be a standing block for the AlphaCools so I decided to make the Cape Cora components rigid which would become my case!

After a couple of months tinkering with drawings, both OO-Draw and then Google Sketchup, I think I had a design that would house my components and yet provide enough convective flow for the radiator cooling.

Then I came to an impass... originally I wanted no moving parts in the box: SSD, fanless coolers on the video card and CPU... but with water, that meant a pump! Pumps have moving parts, moving parts make noise. grrrr :x On top of that, I realized that with the EVGA Hydro Copper2 GTX580, I would theoretically be over the 460W limit of a Seasonic fanless PSU! :cry:

CRAP! it's gonna have moving parts after all!

With really no design modifications, I chose the Seasonic 850W that is fanless at low power (idle) and then only spins the fan as needed under load. And when it is used, its position draws additional air over the memory and mosfets around the CPU. Also, I wanted redundancy in my pumps, so I have two 655's in series to push the water through the CPU, video card and then 24ft of radiator. Normally, the water would run through the AlphaCool radiators in parallel, but I had plugs made to fit in every other T-connector so that every bit of the water actually passes through ALL of the radiators before hitting the reservoir. From the pump, it splits into two paths, one for the CPU and the other for the GPU, then they come back together to feed into the radiator.

Finally, upon realizing that I had two pumps, and a fan in the PSU, I decided to go ahead and place a couple of Noctua 140mm fans at the bottom to assist with the convective effort. They are silent at 600rpm and offer enough air bleeding off the sides to fill the channels of the radiators from the bottom of the case to out the top. And to keep the rest of it quiet and fast, I chose an OCZ Vertex3 240Gb SSD.

The two things missing from a standard case would be:
- optical drive, for which I use an external DVD in the rare instance I need one
- more storage space/options, no worries - as I have a 30TB NAS server in the next room.

Ok, so it has performance with the components I've chosen...
- MSI P67A-GD65
- 16Gb GSkill DDR1600
- i7-2600k @ 4.6Ghz (1.385v)
- OCZ 240Gb Vertex3 on 6Gbps channel
- EVGA GTX580 Hydro @ 1.005Ghz (1.38v)
- 2x MCP655 pumps at level 3 (out of 5)
- Seasonic 850W PSU
- 18 channels of AlphaCool Cape Cora passive radiator
- 250ml Balancer reservoir
- EK Supreme waterblock
- EK dual pump top block
- lots of Koolance fittings (including QDs) and tubing and a couple Bitspower fittings
- AC Ryan mesh for top and bottom, heavy duty speaker grill for corners (front corners hold the 'cover' in place, back corners purely aesthetic)
- serveral aluminum channels (legs), angle (corners) and panels (rigidity)
- Also, alot of rubber washers, rivets, felt, sweat and ad-lib design changes :roll:

So how quiet is it? With the fans at their default of 1200rpm, there is a steady slight hiss of alot of air moving - not desired.
At 600rpm, well, lets say that I'm glad for the network activity light, otherwise I don't know it's on. I am seriously talking silent. I have to put my ear to the case (<2in from the top) and know what to listen for to hear a very slight hum of pumps and fans. Imperceptible is how I would quantify it. Only if I ramp up both Prime95 AND Furmark can I get the PSU fan to an audible level (but way less hiss than fans at 1200). Normal operations or even running MilkyWay (multiCPU and GPU) folding do not raise the noise level.
But... what if I had no fans - as originally designed? Then it sounds like a silkworm under a 3 ton boulder in the middle of the Australian outback at night. :D

Ok...You throw enough money at the situation and you can make it fast and quiet... but what about thermals?
1200RPM fans
- CPU idles @ 34°C (avg), load settles @ 52°C (avg) (Prime95)
- GPU idles @ 28°C, load settles @ 39°C (Furmark)
- Prime95 + Furmark gets the CPU up to 62°C and GPU to 43°C
600RPM
- CPU idles @ 35°C (avg), load settles @ 54°C (avg) (Prime95)
- GPU idles @ 29°C, load settles @ 41°C (Furmark)
- Prime95 + Furmark gets the CPU up to 63°C and GPU to 44°C
0 RPM
- CPU idles @ 37°C (avg), load settles @ 65°C (avg) (Prime95)
- GPU idles @ 30°C, load settles @ 46°C (Furmark)
- Prime95 + Furmark gets the CPU up to 70°C and GPU to 48°C

So, other than the PSU fan coming on with Prime and Furmark running, the system with no 'case' fans is functional. However, since I've already got the Noctuas and they fit so well, I've left them in there at 600RPM for a silent running, but performance oriented solution. Anyway, like many of you here, I wanted to share my results of what happens when you think outside the box!

On with the photos:
Outside of the case:
Image

Inside:
Image

Inside, looking down, with quick disconnects allowing me to remove the 'cover' and run the system without the extra channels
Image

Outside back corner with reservoir:
Image

Outside front corner with quick disconnects (front 'cover' in place)
Image

Angle in view:
Image

Bottom:
Image

Top:
Image

Any questions, comments or constructive criticism are certainly welcome.

I hope this gets the creative juices flowing for many future builds.

Hammy.

PS... Oh, by the way - if I had to come up with a couple negatives for this build... all of the internal wiring is too long and I need to shorten them and that Merriam Webster is looking at adding some of my photos to their references of the definition for the word: HEAVY :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2003 7:18 am
Posts: 1070
Location: UK
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm, :shock: O.M.G. :shock: WOW :shock:

Wonderful build, thanks for sharing :D :D :D

Just shows what can be done if you really want, looks pretty compact too?

And I thought my rig was cool and quiet :roll: Will have to go and try harder now :wink:
Regards, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:56 pm
Posts: 1075
Location: San Jose
Yeah, that is a really nice build. I hadn't seen those passive radiators before, those are pretty cool. Now I'm getting ideas about putting a big radiator outside. Hmm.... :D

But anyway, excellent build!


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:20 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:06 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Chattanooga
Thanks for the comments.

Seb, the case is quite compact. The radiator extrusions come in 50x50x420mm pieces. I made them fit the ATX mobo width (305mm): 6 sticks, then as deep as needed for the I/O panel plus PSU: right at 150mm total for 3 sticks.
The sticks are stiffened with aluminum sheets (rubber grommeted and riveted, then felt covered for noise absorption), leaving about 75mm near the fans exposed for air bleed off into the channels.
The corners are held together with aluminum angle and then some channel makes legs to keep it elevated.

The extrusions are very easy to work with: easy to drill, but heavier than anticipated because there is really so much surface area on them.
The real custom work came inside in making brackets for the PSU to be held in place (but easily removed) and for the pumps to be mounted without effectively touching the case. Tubing is very direct, getting the water to the waterblocks from the pumps and then to the radiators.

So overal dimensions are about: 430w X 275d X 500t (mm)

Cordis, if you google: "alphacool cape cora" you find some reviews on them. I purchased mine from Germany (aquatuning) because I wanted the silver versions, but they have quite a few colors available. Black is available from Performance-PCs where I ordered the rest of my water parts.


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:55 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:53 am
Posts: 1314
Location: CT
Holy poop !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That's a sweet thing you've got there, great job and thanks for sharing !!

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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:23 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:06 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Chattanooga
Thanks Frenchie! The system is treating me well... after some trials and learning curve:

Turns out... the newest (recommended) drivers are not always the best!

While trying to stress my system, I was noticing VERY lousy benchmark times ... in comparison to similar systems. Particularily in reference to frame rates in Furmark, 3dMark, 3dVantage and Heaven. We're talking 1/2 to 1/3 the fps that others with stock 580's were getting.

Even though I had run the OC-scanner at over 1Ghz - where it tested completely fine - as soon as I finish any bench or test, it would settle at 405Mhz and not restore without a reboot. Finally, after thinking I need to RMA the card, I find a thread that others were noticing that their clock speeds were downclocking and getting stuck at 405Mhz. Turns out that drivers since 266.58 were causing this 'power saving feature'. I rolled back to 266.58 (from 280.xx) and wheeeee!!! Full speed ahead on fps!

The main drawback is that I found out my card is not capable of 1Ghz at 1.138v as I suspected, nor at 1.5v (the max). It will do 950Mhz at 1.5v and 900Mhz with only .012v bump to 1.1v (stock voltage for normal GTX580s is 1v, but factory overclocked Hydro 580s come at 1.088v) But now I do get better than average frame rates on the benches.

But along with a graphics card that runs at full steam now, I'm getting more heat generated with 24/7 folding (using MilkyWay as it supports multiple CPU thread and CUDA cores). So with both CPU (4.7Ghz (46 x 102.2BLCK)) and GPU folding, my temps get about 73°C on the CPU and 56°C on the CPU. My case fans are now spinning at 43% (525rpm), but at full load, the PSU fan kicks in to the audible range because of the thermal load.

If I don't overclock the CPU as much, down to around 4.4Ghz, I can lower the voltage and keep the overall system load and thermal load down so that the PSU fan spins at the silent level. (Seasonic X-850W with hybrid cooling fan) (A big thanks to Chris Thompson's posts to making me look into getting lower loads and therefore lower thermals) :D
Now the system is still completely quiet, yet (finally) pretty fast.

Anyway, something to think about ... drivers!


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 4:58 am
Posts: 1
Thanks UThammy your build is mighty impressive. Infact the thing I've been stressing over for months now... how to make a high performance machine that is also silent! Yours is the closest I've seen to that ideal so I have made an account just to ask questions, hope you don't mind :)

I am mainly concerned about the pumps, as the rest of your machine is obviously silent, so thats what my questions are about.

1. How much do they contribute to the noise?
2. Does their location mean they are muffled? Or are they on a reverberating surface (and so amplified)?
3. Is only one pump inadequate for flow?
4. Did you do much research into quiet pumps? If so how did the MCP655 rate?
5. Considering you had no moving parts before the pumps, why did you suddenly choose 2 instead of 1?

Thanks for the help! The possibilities illustrated by your amazing build are exciting, and I am actually pretty jealous :p


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:45 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 1:06 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Chattanooga
Dandalf wrote:
1. How much do the (pumps) contribute to the noise?


Dandalf, if I put my ear to within 3 inches of the PSU, I can hear a hum. Mostly, though, I think I know what I'm listening for. I do have these set to power setting 3 (of 5) although I've read other places that a setting of 2 is completely silent. The computer does sit next to me and my desk, but I don't keep my ear that close, so I can't hear anything at roughly 1 meter away from the PSU.


Dandalf wrote:
2. Does their location mean they are muffled? Or are they on a reverberating surface (and so amplified)?


I believe their location and mounting helped in noise abatement. I had read about somebody who had their pump mounted directly on a surface which distributed alot of vibration and moving it to isolation cut it out. Also, according to EK, the dual head assy reduces noise somewhat. I have mine mounted to the side of my case: felt lined siding, then mount, then rubber grommets around the bolts and metal mounts, then high density foam isolating it from the sides when it's laying down (not so much an issue when standing up)
My location is under the PSU which allows for no clear path of noise to escape. The video card is also longer to keep sound from bouncing around and felt (Hobby Lobby sticky back) on all case sides absorb any left over high frequencies.


Dandalf wrote:
3. Is only one pump inadequate for flow?


To prime it... in the vertical, I found out that I needed two pumps. The first attempt had only one pump powered up (by accident as the Molex connector didn't seat) and it wouldn't push the water very far. Seeing as I'm pushing up through tubing, then CPU and GPU, down to the bottom and then up and down through 24ft of aluminum channel, it needed two pumps to start the process.
However, to easily rid the system of air pockets, I found that laying it on it's side works alot faster and in hind sight, I could have probably used one pump to prime it in that configuration (on its side)
(I'm not sure if I mentioned this here or another forum, but with the pumps set to 4 or higher, they provide too much pressure for the end fittings of the T-connectors to handle! I found this out while priming, but have left them below 4 since then with no problems)


Dandalf wrote:
4. Did you do much research into quiet pumps? If so how did the MCP655 rate?


I did look quite a bit into pumps, as they were the one variable that had no real finite controlled data as far as dB ratings. I found a couple reviews and there are quieter pumps out there, but less powerful. But again, all reviews were subjective. I went with the 655's because I knew they were quite powerful, probably more than I need, which was perfect for being able to turn the power down to cut noise. Also, with my ultimate goal of seeing if I could do this with no fans, I had no reference as to what my system was really capable of cooling with the high end parts I was installing. If I needed more flow, I wanted to have it available...hoping the channel would cool it!


Dandalf wrote:
5. Considering you had no moving parts before the pumps, why did you suddenly choose 2 instead of 1?


Mostly for redundancy. The pumps were the key component of moving coolant. I've seen a completely passive build with no pumps, but not high end gear and there was a method to his flow and understanding of how coolant flows when heated and cooled. I also have fans to assist, but they only help the radiators with coolant moving through them. Without flow, I run the risk of burning up some components. To minimize that risk, I chose two pumps for 24/7 use. I think they also help with the ability to dial the power down on them to minimize noise.


I hope this helps your research! Feel free to keep the questions coming, I'll try to answer them if I can!

Brian. (aka Hammy)


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:10 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
Posts: 370
UThammy wrote:
Then I came to an impass... originally I wanted no moving parts in the box: SSD, fanless coolers on the video card and CPU... but with water, that meant a pump! Pumps have moving parts, moving parts make noise. grrrr :x On top of that, I realized that with the EVGA Hydro Copper2 GTX580, I would theoretically be over the 460W limit of a Seasonic fanless PSU! :cry:

What happened to the AlphaCool Cape Cora passive radiators? How can they be passive if a pump is still required?


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 Post subject: Re: i7-2600k @4.6Ghz + GTX580 @1Ghz in radiator case...fanle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:42 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:38 pm
Posts: 298
Location: ontario
Olaf van der Spek wrote:
What happened to the AlphaCool Cape Cora passive radiators? How can they be passive if a pump is still required?

they dont require a fan actively pushing air over them; while the coolant must still flow through them for it to work.

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